The New York Giants will have been stewing over their Week One loss to Dallas for 11 days once they finally tee it up Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium. We’ll see if the time was used wisely because the defending Super Bowl champions looked to have plenty to work on following their poor performance in the season opener.
In the NFL odds, the Giants are as high as a 9-point favorites against the Bucs’, who are coming off a somewhat ugly but solid 16-10 win against the Carolina Panthers as a home underdog in Week One. The over/under for these two ball-control and defensive-minded teams is 44 points.
The Giants were virtually outplayed across-the-board by their NFC East rival Cowboys in the season opener, which also included a pre-game celebration of last year’s Super Bowl win by the Giants. The New York defense was torched by quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray in the game, while Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning was faced with constant pressure and also hurt by several key drops, most notably those by wide receiver Victor Cruz.
With that said, if there’s been one truism in the Tom Coughlin-era in New York it’s that the Giants will show improvement as the season progresses. Coughlin took the loss to the Cowboys perfectly in stride when talking to media immediately following the game and that sort of confidence has usually trickled down to these Giants’ players.
It appears as if a couple of key match-ups could go a long way in providing the difference in this game. First, the Giants defense will have to show more than they did against the Cowboys. The secondary should have an easier time against the Bucs’ than Romo and the ‘Boys, but whether its run defense can hold up is another question entirely. Tampa Bay first-year head coach Greg Schiano placed an emphasis on establishing the run all training camp and the Bucs’ responded with 130 yards on the ground against the Carolina. The Giants’ front-four, though fierce pass rushers, remain a bit suspect against the run. Any chance for a Bucs’ upset is likely to hinge on if they can simply keep the game close by controlling the clock with a productive running game.
Given the Giants typically don’t hit their stride until late in the season, 9 points seems to be a lot to lay against a team that looks like it can run the ball and play some defense. We’re going to take the Bucs’ and the points in this one.